Conference Spotlight ~ Amanda Ashby & Sara Hantz

Welcome to another of our Conference Spotlights from the DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER conference.

Amanda Ashby writes young adult and mid-grade books for Puffin (US). She also watches far too much television and she never shares the remote control with anyone. Her debut book, You Had Me at Halo was nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice award, and her first young adult book Zombie Queen of Newbury High was listed by the New York Public Library’s Stuff for the Teen Age 2010. Her latest release, Fairy Bad Day, was selected by Voya as one of their Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers 2012.

Sara Hantz writes young adult fiction. She has a PhD in Education and lectured for many years and has two grown-up children who have yet to grasp the fact that the bottomless money pit will soon be closing over. Sara’s debut book The Second Virginity of Suzy Green was listed by the New York Public Library on their Books for the Teen Age. When not writing or working she spends more time than most people she knows watching TV – in fact if TV watching was an Olympic sport she’d get the gold medal.

At Diamonds Are Forever, Amanda and Sara are presenting a workshop aimed at ALL writers called WHY TV CAN BE A WRITER’S BEST FRIEND 


Ever felt guilty for watching television when you should be writing? Well, put the guilt away because it doesn’t matter if your show of choice is Buffy, American Idol or the news, watching them can help make you a better writer. This workshop explores the powerful storytelling techniques used in our favourite shows and teaches us how to apply these techniques to our own manuscripts. All without leaving the comfort of our couch.

Tell us about yourself in 10 words or less.

Completely normal apart from a very, very small TV addiction.

Have you presented sessions at previous conferences, for RWA or other organisations?

We have done several workshops at RWNZ conferences as well as a YA workshop at RWA at couple of years ago. We are also critique partners who spend far too much time talking about television and so it seemed a natural progression to do a workshop that involved both of these things. It also ensures that our husbands now have no chance of ever seeing the remote control again, which you must admit is evil genius at its best!

Will there be hands-on exercises or audience participation?

 We won’t put anyone on the spot and make them work but it will be an interactive workshop and we love having questions as we go. Plus we are known for our generous nature in giving out chocolate treats and prizes!!!!!

Do you use examples (from your own books, other books, movies etc)?

We will be using examples from a variety of televisions shows including the news, House, Buffy, Criminal Minds, American Idol, Glee, Sex and the City and many more. Plus, we have a huge amount of television viewing hours under our sparkly belts and we’re happy to discuss other shows if the audience have specific questions!

Which members will benefit most from this session?

This workshop is designed for all writers who feel guilty for sitting down and watching television when they should be working. Newer writers will benefit by being given visual examples of various storytelling techniques and more advanced writers will hopefully get some extra tricks to add to their toolbox (or just a legitimate excuse for why they need to watch David Boreanaz and Nathan Fillion each week!).

What is the best part/aspect of conference for you?

Catching up with friends! We’ve both being going to conferences for a long time, whether it’s in New Zealand, England, Australia or America and without doubt, the best part is touching base with all of our writing friends. In particular our critique partner, Christina Phillips who lives in Perth so we only tend to see her once a year. We also both love the workshops and we always come away with some amazing new piece of information that improves our writing!

Any advice for conference first-timers?

Go in low, elbows out. Oh, wait, that’s for what you do when you’re waiting for the Boxing Day sales to start. But seriously, we have three pieces of conference advice:

1)Make sure people know that it’s your first time. Romance writers are the kindest, friendliest people in the world and they love taking new conference goers under their wing.

2) Don’t forget to always wear your nametag so that people know who they are talking to.

3)Be prepared to lose your voice!

What is your latest/current/upcoming book release and where can members find out more about you?

Amanda Ashby writes young adult and middle grade books for Puffin in the US. Her current release is Fairy Bad Day and in June she has book one and two in her middle series, Sophie’s Mixed-Up Magic coming out. You can find out more at

Sara Hantz writes young adult books and her current release is The Second Virginity of Suzy Green. You can find out more at

Thank you, Amanda & Sara.


Our next Conference Spotlight is with Dr John Barletta on 26th March.

Leave a comment


  1. amymedicalauthor

     /  March 20, 2012

    Hey Amanda and Sarah. It was fabulous catching up the other day. In fact I’ve just blogged about it at the medical authors blog Love Is The Best Medicine.

    It’s so good to know that I dont have to feel guilty for my television addiction. I’ll be sure to quote you to my husband 🙂

  2. Amy – it was great to see you too! Your post over the medical author blog has made me giggle! I love that people have to get us in order!!!

    Btw, we are happy to write your husband a note to explain just why you absolutely must watch television in order to help write your books!!!!

  3. Wahoo! Look forward to your workshop and seeing you guys!!

    Kelly Ethan

  4. Great to read all about you, ladies, and to hear about the conference workshop. Sounds great,

  5. I’m late ladies, sorry. You two are after my own heart – watching TV and not calling it procrastination! Beauty. Unfortunately, while I’d love to see you ladies in action, I’m moderating the Paranormal panel. 😦


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